★★★☆☆ | Northern Ballet’s The Three Musketeers

In the latest production from Northern Ballet, The Three Musketeers leap from page to stage with a ballet based on the famous novel, which is packed full of drama, action and swordplay, whereby the theft of the Queen’s necklace leads young d’Artagnan on a quest to save Her Majesty’s reputation, fall in love and join the famous trio.

The fact that the piece is choreographed by David Nixon comes as no surprise, given that his very distinct and personal style is eminently evident throughout the ballet and his attention to detail in everything from the pas de deux to the ensemble pieces is clear. There is a jaunty and pleasant score performed by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia; but what adds to this production is the set, which is large, varied and effective, providing a grandiose backdrop to the proceedings and simply, but effectively, differentiating between the locations.

Kevin Poeung is well cast in his role as the young musketeer, and he continues to hone his craft beautifully. Mlindi Kukashe steals every scene he is in with a devilishly underplayed Cardinal Richelieu and Sean Bates delightfully ramps up the camp as King Louis; whilst the remainder of the cast provide such a fast-paced ballet during the ensemble pieces that it is often difficult to know where to look for fear of missing something.

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The narrative is relatively clear, if perhaps a little light, but manages to hit the key elements of the novel; there are plenty of swordfights and heroics to keep the ballet moving along nicely and there is some technically excellent dancing on display. What is, however, noticeably absent is the titular Three Musketeers, whose contribution to the narrative and attendance on stage is surprisingly limited; but overall the production makes for a rather undemanding, pleasant and entertaining ballet.

The Three Musketeers is currently at Sheffield Lyceum until the 27.10.18 before heading to Canterbury Marlowe Theatre. Northern Ballet’s programme continues into the New Year, details of which can be found on their website.